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the official distractions website

Welcome to the official Distractions website. We will be aiming to record the history of one of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Here's a handful of adverts from the music press in 1979 and 1980 - for Time Goes By So Slow, 'Nobody's Perfect' and Something For The Weekend.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Factory Records box set

Here's some more detail from the Factory Records box set, FACTORY RECORDS Communications 1978-92.

These are the credits in the booklet, which, at last, correctly credit Adrian Wright as writer of Time Goes By So Slow:

Interestingly, Eurobeat Ltd were publisher; this company is connected to the first EP that The Distractions recorded, but which was never released, as featured two years ago.  This will, of course, be included in Parabolically Yours, news of which will be released as soon as some final legalities are ironed out.

06 FAC 12

Artist             The Distractions
Title              Time Goes By So Slow
Time             3:19

Writer           Adrian Wright
Production     Brandon Leon
Design           Peter Saville
Format          7-inch single
Date              September 1979

Publisher       Eurobeat Ltd
Copyright      1979 The Distractions
Licence         courtesy of The Distractions

The track was licensed directly from The Distractions, who get a thank you at the end of the booklet:

Special thanks to James Nice at LTM, Julie Lockwood at EMI, A Certain Ratio, The Distractions, Crawling Chaos, James, 52nd Street, The Railway Children, Northside, Jon Savage and Paul Morley.

Here's the tracklisting of disc 1, where The Distractions sit alongside gig-mates Joy Division, ACR, OMD, X-O-Dus, et al.

(c) James Nice, Rhino.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Surpassed the punk rising

Here's the second half of Frank Worrall's 18 September 1982 Melody Maker article on the Secret Seven, featuring Mike Finney.


Frank Worrall (words) and Zbysiu Road (picture) regress to the happy days of THE SECRET SEVEN

BUT isn't the Secret Seven simply another cog in the manufactured romantic pop wheel; in effect, just another Dollar?

"The crucial point here," Mike states, "is that yes, there are lots of pretty and at the same time succesful grops - like Duran Duran and Altered Images - but they're riding on hype.

"The end of the day they've not got a good song to their name.  So sure, we've got Julie and her good looks but we've also got Julie's good voice, my voice and bagful of good songs.

"If anything, we're a thinking man's Dollar," he conclude.  I take a sip of lager and try not to look too shocked.  But you've no depth to your music, I say, hoping to provoke him into submission.  "I wouldn't agree with that," he retorts.  "But what do you want - zenbudhism or pure metaphysics!

"I don't think love songs are lightweight.  I think anything you can touch is lightweight; anything you can't touch can't be lightweight."

Mike confesses that he has a special affection for the music produced by the old great soul artists.  "The best pop lyrics in the world are those by Sam Cooke and Otis Redding," he claims.  "They're so very ambitious, so very clever - and yet they say everything.

"I'd love us to be produced by Isaac Hayes or some of the other great Stax producers.  But I'd settle for someone in Britain like Trevor Horn!"

Yes, but don't you feel that the Seven are taking an easy way out by never broaching upon more topical subject matter?

"We're not the news and I'm not Reginald Bosanquet," he says smiling.  "And we don't want to be.  What's the point and how honest would it be for us to be mouthing off about what's happening in Ireland or Iran?

"Music is escapism that should be totally entertaining," he continues.  "My philosophy on life is if you don't like it don't do it: if you do like it do it again!"

We're just happy producing music that we feel is making a point about one particular aspect of life - emotion and feelings.

KNOWING that Mike has seen, survived and surpassed the punk rising of the late Seventies, I wonder if he accepts that the Secret Seven are just another notch in the post-punk complacency which has suffocated the music world over the last couple of years.

"I know what you're saying - that there's not the same urgency and rough passion - but I don't think that we could be compared to boring bands like Yes.

"Of course times have changed but we're not complacent or self-indulgent.  Bands like us and ABC and The Human League have drawn from the experiences of punk and now we're putting them into practice.

"That means we won't be dull like Yes but I'd also like to say that we don't want to be marketed as a rebellious band like The Sex Pistols were.  I mean they were just as big a part of the business as anyone else."
Julie has been present throughout these exchanges, but hasn't said a word because she's no nervous.  Which surprises me.  At the Hacienda she appeared to be exuberantly confident, pure bluff apparently.

"When I first joined the group I wouldn't even sing if Mike was in the same room," she eventually says.  "I used to go in the loo and he had to go to the bottom of the stairs and listen to me from there!"

Now can you imagine the bleached pumpkin out of Dollar saying that?  Neither can I: far from being artificial The Secret Seven pump real blood, real flesh and real passion through their music.

(c) Frank Worrall. Melody Maker.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ahead of their time

More post-Distractions stuff from the archives.  This is part one of a piece by Frank Worrall in the 18 September 1982 issue of Melody Maker, and sees Mike Finney discuss The Distractions before going on to explain the Secret Seven venture.


Frank Worrall (words) and Zbysiu Road (picture) regress to the happy days of THE SECRET SEVEN

MIKE Finney beams broadly at my first question. "You do have to sell, yes," he whispers. "But I wouldn't say that I'm as such a mercenary as a realist. I'm a man who's learned his lessons as well."

Mike smiles a lot during the course of our jaunt around Manchester's hostelries. Later in the evening I tell him that he's got a lot to smile about.

He nods in agreement - and smiles! Just a short time earlier he'd been reflecting sadly on the frustrations of the past couple of years, when total disillusionment all but set in.

"The Distractions could have been big, he said. "But it all fell apart after we'd got the record deal with Island."

I tell Mike that The Distractions hold fond memories for me and that in retrospect their music was a foundation  from which many of today's "pop" bands have developed.

"It's true," he says. "The music we were making in 1979 was two years ahead of its time. In fact, there's not much difference between what we were doing then and what Haircut One Hundred are doing now."

WE jump forward to March, 1982 when the Secret Seven - with nucleus of Mike, Julie Middles sharing vocals, AJ playing bass and Bernard Van Den Berg on keyboards - started their great adventure.

"It wasn't at all difficult to start over again," says Mike. "I knew that there was something special in the line-up and the new challenge refreshed me. Now the only different between us and The Distractions is that we've got five less songs and we're already more famous. Can't be bad, can it?"

He talks of a calculated master plan conceived to launch the Seven.

"I didn't want to make the same elementary mistakes as before so I thought about it carefully," he admits. "With the help of Mick (Middles), our manager, I made sure that we alerted all the right people in all the right places."

That means he didn't want to get caught up in the staid, messy "rock circuit" idea. "Instead of playing pubs and playing clubs we decided that the Seven would take an easier route."

And it's worked. Look at the Seven's gig at the Hacienda the other week when the club was swarming with vultures from the big labels. "I'd rather be in the position we are now than still be playing some dingy pub in Stockport," he adds.

That's all very well, but isn't there something basically immoral in manipulation and jumping on the latest "pop bandwagon"?

"You think we're on a bandwagon?" he demands. "I don't. Sure we're a pop group but I've always made pop. I believe that the Secret Seven are ahead, not abreast of music fashion; I know we're different.

How's it different? "Well, there's nobody else, expect perhaps the Human League, who are bringing together synthesizers and pop as effectively as us."

[to be continued...]

(c) Frank Worrall. Melody Maker.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Modern masterpiece

The most recent Factory Records boxset, FACTORY RECORDS Communications 1978-92 on Rhino, has extensive track-by-track rundown by James Nice, as well as an essay by Paul Morley and notes from compiler, Jon Savage.  The Distractions feature on the first side, 1978-81 (described in one review as "the finest series of music thus far committed to disc"):

Track 06

Artist - The Distractions

Title - Time Goes By So Slow

This undervalued Manchester new wave pop quartet made their debut on TJM Records in February 1979, and like OMD were sponsored by Factory with a view to landing a major deal and a regular wage.  The entire Distractions repertoire dealt with the subject of love, 'ranging from disappointed to hatred', while Tony Wilson fancied the group as heirs to Austin, Texas, psychedelia circa 1966.  Crafted guitar pop wrapped in an average sleeve, the single neither looked nor sounded like a Factory Record, but earned excellent reviews from stalwarts Paul Morley ('anyone with a fraction of an idea of what makes Great Pop will melt in front of your eyes whenever this modern masterpiece is played') and Jon Savage ('the world's most perfect youth club band').  Within weeks the group signed with Island, releasing an album, Nobody's Perfect, the following year.  However mainstream success eluded them, and by 1981 the group were back on a small label, splitting that same year.

(c) James Nice, Rhino.

(c) De Bug.

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